What should I do if I have a car accident?

Everything you need to know in the event of a car accident...

Accidents happen, they are unavoidable and at some point this could happen to you. Whether serious or just a bump, they are never a situation you want to be in.

While we all like to think that we’re great drivers and that it will never happen to us, it could, and you have to be prepared in the event that you are involved in a car accident.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what you should do in the event of an accident, what information you have to get and the steps you have to take afterwards.

What should I do immediately after I have an accident?

The first thing you should do if you have an accident is to stay at the scene. Under no circumstances should you leave until it is appropriate to do so. If you leave you could get in serious trouble. If somebody involved does leave without providing details then you need to ring the police.

The next thing you should do is to make sure everyone is okay. In this article, we’ll be talking about minor accidents that have done more damage to your car than to anyone involved but regardless of how small you think the accident is, you should always check everyone is safe and unharmed. If somebody is hurt, then ring an ambulance.

Then, you should assess the damage to any property or anything in your vicinity, including roadside fixtures. These include things such as lampposts, fences and walls. If the road is blocked or damaged in anyway, then you will have to ring the police to notify them of this and they can act accordingly.

Never admit that it was your fault, even if you feel it was. This is often a condition of your insurance and the reason for this is that there could be something else that may have affected the way you acted (whether you were aware of it or not) and that was the real cause of the accident.

When should I ask for details of other drivers?

If there are other drivers involved, then it’s after the steps above that you ask for their details. These are the details you should all exchange;

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Registration numbers
  • Insurance details
  • Policy numbers
woman in a white shirt and blue jeans with a black car in an accident with a man in a shirt and trousers with a white car

This will make things much easier should you need to make a claim.

After you have done all of this, it would be advisable to take down the details of any witnesses. This could include their name, address and vehicle registration if they were driving. This can also come in handy so we do recommend doing this if you can.

If the police had to be called then make sure you get the names and badge numbers of the officers on the scene. Again, it just makes things that little bit easier later on. 

Again, do not apologise or accept the blame straight away. We know that it can be difficult not to instantly start apologising but withhold the apologies and don’t play the blame game until you know exactly what happened. It could count against you later on if you instantly say it was your fault.

What other information should I get after the accident?

A car accident is no time to skimp on detail, and we recommend you are as thorough as possible. There are some more steps that you should take to ensure you have all the information;


  • The time and date of the crash
  • Note the weather conditions
  • Also note the quality of the road
  • Take a photo of the position of the vehicles involved and any other damage to roadside fixtures
  • List the damage done to vehicles and if there are any injuries note them down as well

Take as many photos as you can, these will come in handy later down the line and they are much more accurate than memory or drawings. You tend to find that many smartphones will have a date, time and location of the photo taken which will be hugely beneficial.

What should I do after the accident?

what should I do if I get into a car accident?

In the event of an accident you need to notify the police (if they weren’t there already) within 24 hours. You could face a penalty if you don’t.
If someone has been injured then you will need to produce your insurance certificate or cover note to the police if you haven’t already done so. You have seven days to produce these documents.

You will also need to notify your insurance company, regardless of whether you are going to make a claim or not. Tell them the truth and the extent of the damage and injuries. If you do not do this or you lie about the damage then you can get into trouble and the insurance company may go as far as to refuse to cover you for the accident. The time you have to do this varies depending on your policy but it should be stated in your policy documents. If you don’t do this in the set time then the cover may be invalidated.

What details will I need to give the insurance company if I want to make a claim?

If you would like to make a claim, then this is where your thoroughness at the scene of the accident comes in.
You will have to provide them with all the information you have including the details of the other drivers, witnesses, photos and anything else that you noted about the incident. If you still want to proceed with your claim, then the insurance company will tell you what to do.

Making a claim with fully comprehensive insurance

Before we go on, we aren’t insurance experts. We can advise, but you must ask your insurance company. Each insurance company is different and they all have their own processes, but the next part of this article will be general advice for different insurance policies.

If you have fully comprehensive insurance then you should claim from your insurer. You may lose your no claims bonus though. This is in the event that the insurer can’t recover the money from the other driver’s insurer.

a silver car crashing into the back of a red car with two men in shirts and trousers at the scene

If there are any injuries or losses that aren’t covered in your insurance then you can still claim, but these are uninsured losses and you should keep evidence of them.

To make a claim, you will need to either get a form from your insurer or write to the other driver (or their insurer) giving details of the accident and their policy number. You will need to provide your insurer with all the information you acquired when the accident happened.

Making a claim with third party insurance

If you have third party insurance and you want to make a claim then you will need to make a claim against the other driver and the insurance company will decide who is responsible for the accident.

If they decide that you were responsible for the accident then you will have to pay for your repairs.

To claim from the other driver then you will have to tell them this in writing. You need to also notify your insurer that this is what you are planning on doing. The other driver should then report it to their insurer.

What happens if someone is making a claim against me?

If a driver is making a claim against you then you will receive a letter or claim form notifying you of this. All you have to do is simply forward this to your insurer.

When should I get my car repaired after an accident?

Don’t get your car repaired straight away. You should ask for your insurer’s permission before you get it repaired because they might want to send someone to inspect it. You also may have to use an approved repairer but if you want to go through someone else then you will have to ask your insurer for their approval. For tips on how to avoid damage on your lease car you can read our article here. 
Hopefully this has given you some idea of what to do in an accident. The main thing to do is to gain as much information as you possibly can at the time of incident. This will be invaluable should you choose to make a claim. If you are in doubt about anything then ring your insurance company and they will help you. You can also contact citizen’s advice and they will also help you out. Remember, don’t apologise or admit fault until you know what has happened, take photos of the scene and contact your insurance company as soon as you can.

How accurate are online insurance quotes?  Find out here! 
Rachel Richardson

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